For my next book (Picture This, Alaska: Historic Photographs from the Last Frontier, Sasquatch, 2009), I got to sort through 25,000 photos from Alaska’s archival collections to select 110 crisp, well-composed, emotionally evocative pictures to tell the story of how our state grew up. In the process, I developed (no pun intended) a huge appreciation for the story-telling talents of Alaska’s best photographers.

Many of those who shot photos for my book are no longer around. But we’ve got plenty of talented professionals capturing timeless images today. Author Seth Kantner (see my post on his latest book, Shopping for Porcupine) is among them. Then there’s prolific nature writer and photographer Kim Heacox of Gustavus, likened to an Edward Abbey of the North. Another Alaskan photographer brought recently to my attention is Brian Adams, who has repped us beautifully in several national publication.

Roy Corral does amazing nature photography, featured in a variety of projects including My Denali and A Child’s Glacier Bay, both books for young readers. Another among my favorites is James Barker, for his remarkable black and white renderings of Yupik culture in Southwestern Alaska. The title of his classic collection, Always Getting Ready, won me over even before I saw the photos.

Browsing the work of these Alaskans, it’s hard for even the fustiest wordsmith to argue the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.

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